Thursday, March 29, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Remember those apples we had drying on the handy-dandy drying line I strung up behind my desk? We started them on a Wednesday afternoon and by the next Monday morning they were dry, dry, dry and ready to eat. A few kids helped me pull them off on Monday afternoon and we ate them for snack on Tuesday. Kids ate and liked them, but they didn't get rave reviews.
That's okay, because chemistry crept in.
Our chemistry unit is over, but that doesn't mean I won't take an opportunity to remind my class that chemical reactions are continuing to happen around us all the time. In this case, it was the apple bits that weren't big enough to hang on the lines I strung. I spread them out on a baking pan figuring I'd leave them to dry for as long as it took instead of dumping them in the compost.
But there's no way I'm feeding this to my students:
Do you see the dark outline around many of the apple bits? Here, look a little closer:
Some are flipped over, because I showed them to the class and asked what they thought caused the discoloration. Many kids were so sure the apples had molded that they saw fuzziness on the apples that wasn't even there! Some of those same kids had a hard time letting go of their initial hunch, even when I pointed out that the discoloration was on the underside, and if mold had been trying to grow, wouldn't it grow on top of the apple slices? (Although in fairness, if they don't understand that mold would start its growth because of spores that had landed on the fruit, how could they understand my logic?)
I proposed the hypothesis that the apples that touched the pan had reacted chemically with the metal of the baking pan. Color change = indicator of chemical reaction. This got a conversation started about whether apple rings would discolor if we had laid down plastic wrap, tinfoil, waxed paper, etc. I am hoping to get some more apples from our kitchen and set up an experiment just because we could, but we have had art projects and field trips, so the past two weeks have not offered up the time to do so. Luckily, there's always next week. It may have felt like summer last week, but we have many days to go before our year is over.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
The cooking part of my classroom is a total mess.
This afternoon our class attempted/made cowboy fry bread. It took longer than I thought (post about the full lesson coming soon) and then I had to leave school just after 3:00 to get to my daughter's parent/teacher conference one town over from where I teach.
I left behind 20 unwashed plates, almost as many forks, and three fry pans that are going to need some serious attention even though they're currently soaking in soapy water.
Why I am posting about this?
For anyone who knows me, it comes as no surprise to hear me describe myself as a type-A, detail oriented person.
Over the years I have l earned I am learning how to take a breath and deal with whatever comes my way. My learning has been facilitated by maturity that goes with the aging process, the reality of working with children, the reality of being a working parent, and a healthy dose of yoga every now and then.
So the fact that I was able to leave behind the mess of dishes instead of crazily trying to wash them all in ten minutes or less speaks to growth in coping with my innate type-A tendencies. This blog has been, in part, a way for me to record my professional growth this year, and I hope everyone would agree that knowing when it's okay to shrug your shoulders and “let it go” is important growth for anyone working with children.
Especially pre-adolescents in the springtime.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
- Why do people move?
- What do you think it was like moving west in the 1800s?
- What do you wonder about the westward movement of the 1800s?
Monday, March 12, 2012
Friday, March 2, 2012
And then I stood back.
There was some of this:
A lot of this:
And even some of this:
But there was a fair amount of this, too:And some of this...
Any teachers reading this post will likely nod their head in agreement when I say that standing back and letting your students taking the lead can be one of the hardest things about teaching. Not because we like to be in charge all the time (although most of us do), but because we want every moment to be a teaching opportunity. And when we see a kid going off track on a project, we want to jump in and steer them back on course. Sometimes they do find their way back on their own, but by our nature, we want to be the ones to help get them back where they belong.
But if it's an independent project, one that will be assessed as such, it is okay to get involved?
One sneaky thing I sometimes do is ask a student what he is doing and why. This can help the student do some needed self reflection that he might not get to on his own. Only rarely will I intervene if I've said the project is an independent one.
This round I did step in in one instance. One sixth grader returned back on Wednesday, having missed two days before vacation and two after while his family drove to Florida and back. He came back on Wednesday, but he was still on vacation, if you know what I mean. Before he left he had chosen the question: Will fruit oxidize if it's under water? The day he came back was experiment day, and he got permission to leave the room to get fruit from the kitchen and a water spritzer from our facilities manager. I was a bit disappointed that he wasn't planning to submerge the fruit, but hey, this is his experiment, not mine. I told him where the cutting board and knife was, and a few minutes later was floored to see him spritzing his fruit -- an uncut apple, an uncut kiwi, and an uncut orange! No way was anything going to oxidize with this experimental design...
The next morning I pulled him aside and asked what he remembered about the apple and potato experiment. Did we keep the produce whole? He sheepishly realized he needed to cut into his fruit and did so. I justified getting involved because he missed so many days of instruction and planning. I figured I could note that he got assistance on the experimental design, and still assess the rest of his process as independent. My involvement didn't take most of the independence away from this student; he still had to record his procedure, collect data, draw a conclusion, and figure out how to present his findings to the rest of the class.
Next week students will be working on their presentations. Most have chosen to do slideshows or prezi presentations (If you aren't familiar with prezis, you should check them out here.) We'll be presenting our findings to third and fourth grade students at the end of the week.
The week is quite full so I won't be able to fit a cooking project in, but I am already looking ahead to a Westward Expansion unit coming up later in the month. Fry bread, anyone?